In 1867, the Kiowa traveled to Medicine Lodge, Kansas, along with the Comanche, Arapaho, Apache, and Cheyenne to meet with representatives of the U.S. government and sign peace treaties. But not all of the Kiowa agree that the peace treaty is a good thing, and tensions between them and the U.S. Army ("The Blue Jackets") are running high. So, when the army bugler disappears and White Bear, chief of the Rattle Band, finds his bugle out on the plains, the army command assumes that White Bear has killed the man to steal it. To make matters worse, the bugler's body is later found--murdered--out on the plains.
With the army set to try White Bear for murder, and the Kiowa set to declare war if he's not found innocent, Tay-bodal--a healer amongst the Kiowa--is charged by the Principal Chief to investigate and clear White Bear's name. With very little time before an army tribunal is to be held, Tay-bodal must find out the truth about the bugler--a man he doesn't know--and what might have happened out there on the plains.